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One research-backed and simple step to achieving your goals.

Every year, it happens like clockwork — words like “resolutions” and “goals” trickle into our news feeds and conversations each December and carry us well into January.

We seem wired to be hopeful about the future. The potential of a new year to create new habits and achieve our ambitions is enticing, regardless of how successful we were with them the year prior. Enter a slew of solutions to all designed and for sale to help! From weight loss apps and gym discounts for people working on physical wellness to coaching programs, planners and vision-boarding — the human nature to dream big for ourselves has created an entire industry.

But one of the most effective methods to help you make your goals reality is actually the simplest: write them down.

People who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.

This study led by Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University followed 267 participants across different methods of commitment, namely writing goals down and sharing them with others as a means of accountability. The results demonstrate how taking our goals out of our minds — out of our already busy mental load — and into something external is a powerful key to making progress. It also shows the power of interpersonal support. Those who sent their commitments to a friend accomplished significantly more than those who wrote action commitments or did not write their goals.

These findings are especially interesting given who is making resolutions and setting goals in 2024. GWI found that people experiencing life changes were some of the most likely groups to make resolutions in 2024, including expecting parent, first-time home buyers and people planning international travel:

They also found that the most common goals themselves span both life plans and aspirations, including saving more money, practicing more self-care, being kind to others, learning a new skill or hobby and spending more time with friends/family:

What these goals have in common is that they can’t be accomplished in one sitting. At their core, they are behavior changes. The only way to achieve your goal of being kinder to others is simply to be kinder to others, then do it again and again over the course of the year. And while you might use a fitness app to manage your physical wellness goal, the idea of having a standalone app or tool for each one of our goals seems a bit much.

We need tools that work across our goals. We need tools that bring the potential of technology into our lives, into the behaviors and environments that we’re hoping to change. We need tech that helps us manage our ambitions for our lives while allowing us to live our lives outside of a screen.

But before anything else, we need to write it down.

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